A New Parents’ Guide on Returning to Work
Nothing can fully prepare you for life as a new parent. To off-set that, well-intentioned family and friends give all sorts of unsolicited comments and advice: some helpful, some cringy, and some just plain shocking. Amidst all of the chaos and sleepless nights, a never-ending stream of parenting advice that contradicts itself, and anxiety about returning to work – something’s gotta give, right?
Let’s dive in and explore how to take back the reins and feel confident in your new role as Mom or Dad. In this New Parents’ Guide, we’ll walk through how to prioritize, focus on work-life balance, and most importantly – take care of yourself. In fact, let’s talk about that first.
Take Care of Yourself
As a brand-new parent, the most important gift you can give yourself is grace. Your entire life has changed immensely in recent months, and you’re probably operating on very little sleep, too. It’s an incredible yet intense physical and emotional adjustment. Chances are, you have mixed feelings about returning to work. Whether you’re someone who has thrived in your career, or you’ve seriously considered the stay-at-home path, it’s likely you’re still grappling with the decision now that the baby is finally here. It’s a rollercoaster; you’re not alone. Be easy on yourself.
Practice Self Care
Make time for self-care, such as exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy foods. It’s also important to ask for help if you need it, whether it’s from your spouse, partner, family, friends, co-workers, and/or a mental health professional to help manage stress and any emotional challenges that may arise.
Nurture Your Relationship With Your Partner
Movies, books, and even diaper commercials make it seem like babies bring only bliss to romantic relationships, but those of us in the trenches know that’s not always the case. When you add an adorable third wheel to the mix, issues are bound to pop up if communication and reconnection aren’t prioritized. So how do you keep the spark alive through this new chapter as first-time parents? Very Well Family recommends the following:
Take Time to Talk – “Communication is so important. Don’t presume your partner knows how you’re feeling, because they may not—then you’re going to get angry when they don’t know,” stresses Dr. Carly Snyder, perinatal psychiatrist.
Prioritize Date Night – It doesn’t have to be elaborate! The key is to make the night (or afternoon) about the two of you—not the kids. No babysitter? No problem. Make it a staycation at home or out on the patio.
Embrace the Little Moments – This means enjoying your child’s funny quirks, but also your partner’s. Make it a point to show your partner appreciation or affection in small yet impactful ways.
“Remember that every stage in parenthood is transient,” says Dr. Snyder. “The newborn phase is not forever, the toddler phase is not forever— it’s about being comfortable with the fact that things are going to change.”
Connect with Other Parents
Connecting with other parents can be a great way to share experiences and find support during this time. Consider joining a support group, attending a parenting class, or finding a local parenting group to connect with others in your community who also are returning to work. You will be surprised how sharing similar experiences with other working parents can be relieving.
Become a Prioritizing Pro
Your time has always been valuable, but now it’s even more precious. Time management is absolutely essential. Here are some tips for a new parent who’s also juggling a job.
Get Comfy With Your Calendar
Not a planner? You are now. Trust us, you’ll have much more peace of mind knowing your to-do list and important reminders are nestled neatly in your agenda. Need to grab eggs on the way home? Write it down. Need to schedule a haircut? Put a reminder in your phone, planner, or digital calendar on your computer. Suddenly think of a great question to ask your pediatrician? You guessed it – record it somewhere.
Spend a few minutes each day, either in the morning or the night before, planning what you need to accomplish and when you plan to do it. This will help you more efficiently multi-task and feel confident you’re not forgetting anything.
Your planning system can be digital or paper-based, or a combination of the two. Find what works for you and stick with it!
The less time you have to spend racking your brain for misplaced information, the more time you’ll have for your family. In fact, you can add “enjoy quality time with my family” to your list and feel an extra burst of satisfaction when you cross it off.
Delegate Whenever Possible
You have a lot on your plate; but you don’t have to eat it all. As you go through your day, ask yourself, “can I delegate this task?” This goes for both work life and personal life.
Communicate with your partner about expectations and ways you can help each other. Remember that you are a team; design and execute your game plan accordingly.
Often times, a little clarity and direction are all that’s needed. Instead of waiting for help (or glaring across the room, hoping they’ll get the hint), ask for what you need.
- Try this, “I’m going to mop the floor; could you please give the baby his bottle?”
- Giving options is always a nice approach. Try this, “I’d like to have the kitchen cleaned up and the laundry put away before the baby goes to sleep. Would you rather do that or give the baby her bath and start the bedtime routine?”
Consider reshaping your role at work – are there duties that no longer mesh with your optimal work-life balance? After-hours events and work-related travel might not be your preference these days, and that’s fine! Don’t be afraid to speak up and request changes as needed. If your company is unwilling to be flexible with you, consider looking elsewhere.
Household upkeep – if the budget allows, consider hiring a house cleaner to ease your cleaning load.
The more nonessential tasks you delegate, the more you can focus on what matters – your sweet, precious baby.
Focus on Work-Life Balance
As you’re transitioning back to work as a new parent, be gentle with yourself. You’ve been through so much and had your life turned completely upside down. Ask your employer for flexibility, make adjustments as needed, and have a solid plan for child care.
Ease Into the New Work Routine
If you have the option, consider a gradual return to work. For instance, request to work part time and/or remotely rather than immediately running full steam ahead as you did in your pre-parent days.
If a slow start isn’t possible, request your first day to be midweek. Returning to the rat race on a Wednesday allows you to dip your toes in and have a weekend to reset and make changes to the schedule if needed before your first full week back.
Perhaps your career requires working nights and weekends, but you want to switch to a more regulated schedule. Communication with your employer is key when returning to work after having a baby. Let your employer know your needs, such as the need for a private space to pump breast milk, a flexible schedule, or time off for doctor appointments. It’s also important to discuss your work responsibilities and make any necessary adjustments to accommodate your new schedule.
Daisy Wademan Dowling, the founder and CEO of Workparent, suggests the following to new parents: “Be up front with your boss. Maybe not on your first day back, but at some point, you need to have an honest and up-front conversation about the new realities of your life as they relate to your job. Acknowledge that the next few weeks may be bumpy — your emotions may be all over the map — but make it clear that you are still fully committed to your job and organization. Think about what you need from your employer and how to make your new situation work best for you. Bring up projects you’d like to be considered for and work travel that you’re willing to do or not do. You need to proactively own your story; the more you can control, the better.” (Source: Harvard Business Review).
Invest in a High-Quality Child Care Program
In order to fully focus on your career, you want to be certain that your precious bundle of joy is in good hands. Here at Kiddi Kollege, we offer comprehensive infant care programs at several locations throughout Johnson County, including Overland Park, Olathe, Leawood, and Lenexa. Your child can begin their Kiddi Kollege journey as early as six weeks of age and grow with us all the way through their pre-K graduation ceremony!
Our infant care programs are much more than a “day care.” We’re committed to providing a loving environment that lays the foundation of your child’s emotional, social, intellectual and physical growth.
Each of our early childhood education class groupings are based on age and development. We separate our newborns and younger infants from the mobile toddlers to keep everyone safe and living their best life.
Schedule a Tour at Kiddi Kollege
As a new parent heading back to work, you have a lot on your mind. Fortunately, the compassionate, highly-trained staff at Kiddi Kollege is ready to welcome you and lighten your load.
Whether you have an infant, toddler, preschooler, or are looking for afterschool care, we’d love for you to be part of the Kiddi Kollege family! Enjoy peace of mind knowing your child is thriving at school – and don’t worry, you can tag along for the ride with frequent updates via Brightwheel, our messaging app.
Schedule a tour today at any of our Johnson County locations: Overland Park, Olathe, Leawood, and Lenexa.